Navy Pier is an iconic landmark located in Chicago, Illinois, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Originally opened in 1916, the pier has since been transformed into a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. With its stunning views of the Chicago skyline, a variety of dining and entertainment options, and numerous attractions, Navy Pier offers something for everyone. We’ll explore the history of Navy Pier, its current offerings, and why it’s worth a visit on your next trip to Chicago.
If one is ever visiting Chicago pondering the best place to ‘people watch’ they need not think of anywhere other than Navy Pier on a gorgeous summer afternoon. The 1010 meter long pier was built in 1916 and is today the number one tourist attraction in Chicago. Situated along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier turns into a bustling hive of activity over the weekend as tourists and locals alike converge to take in the various attractions that are vying for ones attention.
Although many come for the Ferris wheel, stained glass museum and/or shopping mall I was on a mission to take some candid portraits. The opportunity to snap some discreet shots of people wandering along the Pier was literally a travel photographers gold mine of never ending opportunities. As a travel photography tip, I sat down in a central location along the Pier and snapped some covert shots shooting in live view appearing to be doing nothing more than reviewing my photos on my LCD screen to the casual eye. When shooting shots of people using this technique it is best to adopt a code of minimal interference. I honestly prefer not to disturb anyone while they’re enjoying a personal moment in a public place. Thus, if my subject is unaware I’m taking a photo of them = mission accomplished.
I was able to come back to Navy Pier several times during my six day stay in Chicago because it was located within walking distance from my hostel in the down town area of Chicago. The following photo essay captures shots of people interacting in a natural manner:
Photo Essay: Faces of Navy Pier
A cute girl is fascinated by her reflection as she stares into the mirror ball.
A man working at Billy Goat Tavern & Grill pours a tourist a pint of beer.
An elderly man wearing a trench coat yawns while another distinct face winks.
A girl looks down at her blue shaved ice with a local of disappointment. Maybe Mom got her the wrong flavour :
A man sits down to enjoy a refreshing treat while his dog looks up eagerly salivating and indicating he’d appreciate it if the man would share.
A cute girl in a red dress wanders down Navy Pier.
A group of young Navy American men confidently strut around.
A man with a very distinct face smiles upside down 😛
A group of friends share a laugh and some smiles.
A family decked out entirely in Chicago Professional Sports Team attire (Blackhawks and Bears) wander the Pier.
A goofy but somewhat painstakingly familiar looking tourist takes a strange portrait of himself via a distorted mirror.
A lady strolls along the Pier while nibbling bites of ice cream from her waffle cone.
Two ladies stroll down the Pier with an arm around one another.
A vendor wearing a sailing/pirate hat and uniform tries to persuade passer-bys to take a tour.
History Of Navy Pier in Chicago
Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, is a historic landmark that has stood the test of time, with a rich legacy that dates back over a century. Originally established in 1916 as a dual-purpose shipping and leisure facility, the pier was named in honor of the valiant Navy personnel who served during World War I. With cargo ships regularly docking at the pier to offload their goods, it quickly became a bustling hub of activity.
As the years went by, Navy Pier grew into a popular entertainment and recreation destination, boasting a ballroom, amusement park rides, and even an ice rink. It was also a much sought-after venue for conventions and trade shows. However, it wasn’t all fun and games – during World War II, the pier played a pivotal role in the war effort, serving as a training center for Navy personnel.
Despite its military history, Navy Pier continued to be a recreational hotspot even after the war, attracting locals and tourists alike with its diverse offerings. Fast forward to the 1990s, and the pier underwent a significant renovation, with new attractions, restaurants, and shops added to the already impressive lineup. Today, Navy Pier is a year-round destination that offers visitors an impressive array of activities and entertainment options.
Over the years, Navy Pier has become an iconic symbol of Chicago’s cultural landscape. Its Ferris wheel, installed in 1995, is a defining feature of the city’s skyline, while the pier itself has become a beloved gathering spot for generations of Chicagoans. In short, Navy Pier is a living testament to the enduring spirit of this great American city.
How To Visit Navy Pier
Navy Pier is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city of Chicago. A visit to this iconic landmark promises to be a memorable experience, but to make the most of it, some advance planning is necessary. Here are some tips to help you navigate your visit to Navy Pier.
Firstly, it’s essential to plan ahead. Navy Pier is open year-round, but the hours of operation vary depending on the season. Be sure to check the Navy Pier website or call ahead to confirm opening and closing times. Furthermore, several attractions and restaurants within the pier have their own operating hours, so it’s vital to check those as well.
Secondly, you should choose the mode of transportation that best suits you. Navy Pier is accessible by public transportation, including bus and train. However, if you prefer to drive, there is parking available, although it can be pricey, particularly during peak season. You might want to consider using a ridesharing service or taking a taxi instead.
Thirdly, Chicago’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to dress appropriately. Depending on the time of year, you’ll need to bring layers and comfortable walking shoes, especially if you plan on walking around the pier and exploring all it has to offer.
Fourthly, if you plan on visiting several of the attractions at Navy Pier, such as the Ferris wheel or the Children’s Museum, it might be worth purchasing a CityPASS. This pass includes admission to several popular attractions in the city, including Navy Pier, and can save you money in the long run.
Finally, take your time and enjoy everything Navy Pier has to offer. With so much to see and do, it’s essential to prioritize what interests you most. Consider starting with a ride on the Ferris wheel to get a bird’s eye view of the pier and the Chicago skyline, and then explore the different attractions and restaurants at your leisure.
By following these tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit to Navy Pier and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.
Navy Pier Guide For Visitors
Navy Pier in Chicago is an iconic destination that offers a wide range of activities for everyone. Families, couples, locals, and tourists alike can find something to enjoy at this popular location.
One of the most classic attractions at Navy Pier is the Ferris wheel, which offers a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the city and Lake Michigan. The enclosed gondolas provide an all-weather experience, so visitors can enjoy the ride year-round.
Another popular attraction at Navy Pier is the Chicago Children’s Museum. This interactive museum is an excellent place to take kids and keep them entertained for hours.
Visitors can also embark on a sightseeing cruise departing from Navy Pier, which offers a unique perspective of Chicago’s skyline from the water. The Pier Park attractions, including a carousel, mini-golf, and a wave swinger, are perfect for families seeking outdoor fun.
For those interested in cultural events, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is located at Navy Pier and offers a range of productions throughout the year. Visitors can also enjoy a range of performances at the Pepsi® Skyline Stage, which hosts concerts, comedy shows, and cultural performances.
Navy Pier has an abundance of shopping options, from souvenir shops to high-end boutiques, catering to every budget and taste. After a long day of exploring, visitors can indulge in a meal with a view at one of the several restaurants on-site, offering everything from fast-food chains to upscale dining options.
Hence, Navy Pier has something for everyone, and visitors are sure to have an unforgettable experience. With so much to see and do, it’s impossible to take everything in during one visit, so take your time and enjoy all that Navy Pier has to offer.
Where To Stay Near Navy Pier
If you’re planning to visit Navy Pier in Chicago and wondering where to stay, you have plenty of options to choose from. There are several hotels located within walking distance of the pier that cater to various budgets and preferences.
The first option is the Navy Pier hotel itself, the Sheraton Grand Chicago. This hotel offers stunning views of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, and the city skyline. Its central location makes it an ideal choice for visitors who want to explore downtown Chicago.
Another popular hotel near Navy Pier is the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile. This hotel is located just a few blocks away from Navy Pier and offers modern amenities, including a fitness center, indoor pool, and an on-site restaurant.
The Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile is another hotel located within walking distance of Navy Pier. It offers spacious rooms, complimentary breakfast, and an indoor pool, making it a great choice for families.
For those looking for a more luxurious stay, the Ritz-Carlton Chicago is a five-star hotel located a short distance away from Navy Pier. This hotel offers upscale amenities, including a spa, fitness center, and on-site restaurant.
Lastly, if you’re on a budget, the HI Chicago Hostel is a great option. Located just a few blocks away from Navy Pier, this hostel offers affordable dormitory-style accommodations and is perfect for solo travelers and backpackers.
Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option, there are plenty of hotels located near Navy Pier to choose from. Make sure to book in advance to secure the best rates and availability.
Navy Pier Final Thoughts
As one traverses through the vibrant city of Chicago, one cannot help but feel a magnetic pull towards the illustrious Navy Pier. The stunning views of Lake Michigan, coupled with the endless array of attractions and entertainment options, make this destination a must-visit for travelers from all over the world.
The Chicago Children’s Museum and the iconic Ferris wheel are only a few of the many attractions that await visitors at Navy Pier. The Pepsi® Skyline Stage is also a cultural hub that offers a range of performances, while the Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a must-visit for theater enthusiasts.
In addition to the attractions, Navy Pier offers a range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options to visitors. The pier’s central location also makes it easy for travelers to explore the city’s downtown area.
A trip to Navy Pier wouldn’t be complete without staying close by. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay or a budget-friendly option, there are plenty of hotels located within walking distance of the pier to cater to your preferences and budget.
Navy Pier is a destination that should not be missed when visiting Chicago. Its range of attractions and entertainment options, combined with stunning views and a prime location, make it a must-visit for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience.
You truly have a wonderful potential. I hope you will use it for good. Thank you very much for sharing this experience to everyone. W
I sincerely love the photos. You truly have a wonderful potential. I hope you will use it for good. Thank you very much for sharing this experience to everyone. What camera did you use in taking these pictures?
These are excellent photos! I especially like the ones of the little girls, the man yawning, and the dog salivating. Great captures!
I love your photos! I love outdoor shots a lot! Did you have fun in Chicago? I’m sure you did. I love to take shots in Chicago too, soon!
Thanks for sharing!
I already made the Navy Pier part of my bucket list on my trip to Chicago this summer. Yes, I obligated my cousin with this.
Navy Pier is fun though insanely crowded a lot of the time. But you’re right, it’s a great spot for photographers. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Great photos, candid photos are the best!
You do candid photos of people so well! It feels like I’m there.
Great photos! Love the pic of the man smiling upside down. 🙂 Navy Pier is fun though insanely crowded a lot of the time. But you’re right, it’s a great spot for photographers.
Some of my favorite attractions are the Shakespeare Theater and Bubba Gump Shrimp.
Great photos! The girl with the ice cream doesn’t look very impressed with her ice cream; it’s obviously missing some chocolate!
Love the upside down smile! That guy is hysterical and has an insane face. Love candid photo’s and thought these were brilliant. Nice work!
How fun! I love Chicago – these are great
The second photo looked familiar. You posted that one last year, am i right? Hehe
Oh, i love the pic with the navy guys LOL
I feel intrusive when I take shots like these. Just another excuse to grab a Canon EF 100-400mm .